Conservatives need to be re-branded
by T. Nelson
by T Nelson
y now most conservatives are sick to death of hearing that they need to re-brand themselves if they want to win an election. But it's really true: our brand sucks.
When I think back to when I was a liberal kid, and ask why I wasn't a conservative back then, the answer I get is that I thought conservatives mainly wanted to prevent me from doing things. They moralized a lot and they were against freedom, or so it seemed.
An example was the abortion fight. The dumbest thing supporters of the pro-life movement ever did was to shoot abortion doctors. It almost killed their cause, and it drove lots of us away from conservatism altogether.
It wasn't until I realized that liberals were even more authoritarian and moralizing than conservatives that I switched sides. It was political correctness, and to a lesser extent 9/11, that converted me.
But kids today are used to P.C., and 9/11 is ancient history.
Young people's job is to figure out what's what in the world. Their first impulse is to look at the name: “Hmm, liberals. That must mean they're generous, as in being liberal with the ketchup.” “Hmm, conservatives. That must mean they want to conserve old things. Since I'm a new person, I must like new things, so I must not be a conservative. Plus the libs seem to be more fun. I like to have fun. So that must be what I am.”
This is how kids think.
That's why being called the “Party of No” has such a sting. The Democrats have the Good Babysitter schtick sewn up. Good babysitters give you free candy, bad babysitters tell you no, it will rot your teeth. Conservatives will never win an election if their representatives run on a platform of saying No, dragging their feet and moving more slowly in the same direction the Democrats are moving. They must have a positive message. Right now, they don't.
Just dragging your feet against the opposition is a sign of weakness. Voters will not side with a party that shows weakness. The Republicans don't have a message at all—their strategy is to throw shit up against the wall and see if it sticks. So far, it hasn't. But libertarians and conservatives do have a message, and conservatives have the fire of conviction. Those three factions must unite if we are to save the country from where the libs will take us.
As John Jordan, an advertising guy, writes: “All durable brands are associated with at least one positive attribute in the minds of consumers - or in this case, voters.” Take it from the guy who invented Tastevin. Okay, I never heard of it either, but his point is still good.
For example, whenever I see a conservative promoting creationism and the Bible, I cringe. Nothing wrong with the Bible, or even with creationism, though I happen to think creationism needs more work before it can compete with evolution. But as far as branding is concerned, it's a great way to get yourself labeled as old-fashioned Bible-thumper. It's not fair. But in politics, if the groundwork is not in place for it, you can't push for it.
Liberals are in the same bind, because the word “liberal” has come to mean “self-righteous authoritarian busybody.” They tried “progressive” until people figured out that “progressive” is just another term for “communist.” So now they're going after the term “libertarian.”
We can't let them have it. Liberals and libertarians are about as far apart as you can get. Yet conservatives play into the libs' hands by bashing libertarians at every opportunity.
Libs' ideas aren't new. Although their roots go back to before the French Revolution, they were formally compiled way back in 1848. We should call them 1848'ers to emphasize how old and out of date they are.
Conservatives have an appealing message: Strength, Prosperity, Honesty, and Grown-ups in Government. But they lack leadership.
Leadership is not just telling people what they want to hear. It is not just pushing away anyone who doesn't accept all that you believe. It is having confidence in your message. If conservatives spend their energy bashing RINOs and libertarians and complaining about apostates like Ann Coulter, that is not leadership. Conservatives must first convince the GOP establishment. If they can't do that, how can they expect to convince the voters?
Leadership means having confidence that anyone who hears what you stand for will come to accept all your beliefs, because they are compelling. I came to the cons' side because of revulsion against P.C., and then learned some macroeconomics and political history, which convinced me the cons were right. Yet some conservatives push people away by saying you can't be a true conservative if you're an atheist or a gay person, or if you believe that marijuana should be legalized. We know that's not true. If your beliefs are sound, and you show confidence about that, people will get sucked in despite themselves, and their beliefs will change.
I am not talking about liberal mush like “inclusiveness” or Madison Avenue crap like catchy slogans. I am talking about hooking your fish with something they already believe, like the need for a strong foreign policy, or fairness in the economy, and then slowly reeling them in. These are things even liberals know we don't have now. This makes all of them potential customers. Don't deprive yourself of converts by pushing them away.
The conservatives know leadership. They need to re-discover that quality and show it, so the voters know they really can lead the country. Because we know what kind of country the libs will create if we can't mount an effective opposition.